MORE sexual offences were recorded in the Cotswold district over the last year, amid a record high number of such crimes across England and Wales.

Gloucestershire Constabulary recorded 157 incidents of sexual offences in the Cotswolds in the 12 months to December, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That was an increase of 69 per cent compared to the previous year.

At 1.7 crimes per 1,000 people, that was slightly lower than the rate across England and Wales, which stood at 3.1.

The number of sex crimes logged by police across England and Wales reached another record high in 2021.

Police forces recorded 183,587 rapes and sexual offences in the year to December 2021 – up 22 per cent on 2020 (150,748), which was previously the highest annual figure to date.

Some 37% of sexual offences recorded (67,125) were rapes – a 21% rise from 55,592 in the 12 months to December 2020.

There was also a rise in domestic-abuse related crime in 2021, and stalking and harassment.

Diana Fawcett, chief executive of the charity Victim Support, said she was "seriously concerned" by the latest figures.

She added: “Sadly, these figures reflect what we’re seeing – the number of sexual violence cases referred to us have increased by a third since before the pandemic.

“We also know that court delays for victims of sexual violence are at an all-time high – this is a worrying combination."

The ONS said the latest statistics may reflect a number of factors, including the “impact of high-profile incidents, media coverage and campaigns on people’s willingness to report incidents to the police, as well as a potential increase in the number of victims”.

It said the overall number of crimes recorded were lower during lockdowns but that there were “substantial increases" from April 2021, with certain offence types returning to or exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

The total number of offences in Cotswold increased by 21%, with police recording 3,795 crimes over the course of the year.

This puts the overall crime rate at 42.0 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 85.5.

Other crimes recorded in Cotswold included:

1,459 violent offences, a rise of 39 per cent

1,156 theft offences, a rise of 1 per cent

486 incidents of criminal damage and arson, up 9 per cent

20 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up six

346 public order offences, up 65 per cent